And here is a quick history of the Main Empire of my Homebrew setting. Up until they reached out into the Void, anyway.
The Empire of Ravnivorous began on a planet already dominated by a pair of Empires. The first was the Empire of Shan, a truly ancient nation whose hereditary rulers had held sway over a massive area for centuries. The Shan Empire was one of tradition and mystery with very few outsiders seeing even the smallest portion of the land. The Shan preferred this, having no desire to go against the decrees of their Emperors and mix with those they considered barbarians.
The second empire was on the same continent as Shan but was located on the much smaller land located west of the mountains that divided the continent. This land, known as Almati was once several diverse nations with diverse races that warred with each other almost constantly. This changed when an ancient Golden Dragon known as Sunchaser took up residence in the mountains that separated the two empires.
For decades Sunchaser paid no mind to the chaos around him, living a simple life of eating mountain goats and the occasional buffalo from the plains and hoarding what treasure he could find or the local tribes offered him in tribute. Then, one of the human tribes offered him a great deal of gold to assist them in their battles. Strangely, Sunchaser agreed. Not only did he love gold, but also he felt that it was time to bring some peace and stability to the land around him. Not to mention the fact that he fell in love with the Chief’s daughter who, rumor told, was actually the daughter of a Celestial Servant. Once the Chief agreed to give Sunchaser his daughter’s hand in marriage, the deal was sealed.
With the might of a dragon (and eventually, his descendants) behind them, it only took a little more than a century for the tribe and Sunchaser to consolidate the peoples west of the mountains into a single, cohesive nation. They formed a Commonwealth where each nation had representation in a governing Council. Having brought peace to the land, Sunchaser retired from active life once again, and accepted the tribute his expanded nation provided him.
However, about the same time that Sunchaser decided to take a more active hand in the world events around him, a group of men and women hundreds of miles away on another continent began a course of action that would shake the world. These thirteen sorcerers combined their powers to summon and make a pact with a group of demons. However, even the combined might of these spellcasters was not enough to overcome the inherent dislike of the material world of even moderately powerful Demons. Instead, they had to content themselves with a group of only marginally sentient, rather weak spirits.
There were advantages to utilizing these entities, however. The first was that they were only marginally sentient. This meant that once they were bonded to their host, the humans were able to completely dominate the spirits and there was no contest of wills. The second is that the price of the pact was low. All the spirits wanted was the visceral experiences that only physical entities can enjoy and a portion of the soul energy released by each person they killed.
The gifts they provided in return were originally fairly meager. For the price of one soul a year, the demons completely halted the aging process in their hosts, giving them a sort of immortality. However, the true power of the spirits would soon prove itself apparent as the Possessed, as they came to call themselves began to experiment with their newfound symbiotes
The Possessed soon discovered that the demons they now shared their bodies with needed very little soul energy to sustain them. Beyond this, whenever they received excess soul energy they “grew” becoming more powerful. This extra power translated into more powerful abilities for the hosts. While a single soul had little effect, the more that were given to the spirit the more powerful the adaptations they provided. What was more, these changes were permanent. The soul energy was eternal and powered the ability ceaselessly.
This discovery led to a frenzy of bloodshed as most of the members of the Possessed went on an indiscriminate killing spree to gain power as fast as possible. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, this led to a backlash by the mortal people surrounding them. Even with the power they had accumulated they were no match for the mass of angered humanity that sought revenge upon them.
3 of the group were killed and the rest were forced to flee, hiding their abilities and the source of their powers and scattering to the four winds. Those left alive learned a valuable lesson and were far more subtle about the acquiring of souls. They killed only those who would not be missed, or when they were sure they could not be caught, or in ways acceptable to the mortals around them such as in war.
Slowly, over the course of decades, their power, physical, mystical and societal, grew. They became the leaders of groups of bandits, or marauding war bands, or officers in armies, or the leader of villages, then their followers grew and grew again until they were at the heads of armies or held dominion over entire cities. They also discovered another very valuable aspect of their spirits. On occasion, a new person would be Possessed. They never discovered the exact reason for these new possessions, other than that there was a Possessed in their presence and at least one person died at their hands. While it was more common for the child of a Possessed to become Possessed, this heritage was no guarantee and a number of people who had no relation to the original Possessed were bonded with spirits. It didn’t matter if that was the first person they had ever slain or if they had slaughtered dozens in the last hour. It also had no bearing on those already in existence. When one died, the spirit didn’t immediately take up a new host and since it was impossible to tell the spirits apart it was also impossible to tell if they ever possessed a new host or if they were destroyed along with their host. Thus, the number of Possessed slowly grew.
Once they felt they were strong enough they consolidated their power, coming together as a circle once again, they overthrew the government of one of the countries in their homeland and set themselves up as rulers. The nations surrounding them were to busy fighting each other, or preparing to fight each other to pay the Possessed much mind.
The Possessed, for their part bided their time and consolidated their power once again, exhibiting the patience of the immortal. However, the very nature of the Possessed causes them to fight and conquer. They waited until a moment when all the nations around them had all but exhausted themselves with fighting each other and struck. In a lightning campaign, they invaded and conquered the weakest of their neighbors. The other nations surrounding them were too weak and divided to counter attack and, again, the Possessed consolidated their holdings.
This cycle continued, the Possessed waiting less and less time between attacks as they subsumed their conquered lands into their growing empire and used their resources and men to make themselves ever more powerful. It took several centuries, but, eventually, the Possessed were masters of the whole continent. This campaign did not come without a price, however. Only five of the original members of the Cabal survived these wars of conquest, the rest dying in battle. Because of the bloodshed, however, those who had survived had become quite powerful, many transformed so much that they were hardly recognizable.
For some time, things remained this way. The Possessed rebuilt the lands that they had so recently destroyed. They slaked their thirst for blood, violence and death by feeding on the souls of criminals and in gladiatorial games held for the amusement of both themselves and the citizens of their empire. However, the very nature of the Possessed requires conquest and it was only a matter of time before they sought a new goal.
Naturally, their eyes were drawn to the Almatian Confederacy. The Almatians and Possessed empires were separated by a relatively small ocean and the trade winds were favorable for the Possessed. The Shan were across a much larger ocean and the winds blew the wrong way to make the trip easy.
A vicious war ensued with the Possessed sending wave after wave of troops across the sea to attack their enemies. At first, Almati held their lands firmly, turning back their attackers time and again. The Possessed lands were far larger than those of the Almati, however, and eventually, numbers and resources overcame the skill and defenses of the Almatians. Their problems were exacerbated by the fact that the Shan took this opportunity to escalate their longstanding hostilities. Thus, Almati was forced to keep their defenses on their border with Shan strong while simultaneously fighting off the forces of the Possessed.
It didn’t take Sunchaser long to realize that he was fighting a losing battle. It was also fairly obvious to him that a great deal of the Possesseds’ advantage were the Possessed themselves. They bore powers and abilities that were greater than his own mortal troops and used them to great effect. The dragon realized that without drastic measures, his nation was doomed.
He had taken mortal paramours numerous times over the centuries and not a few of his subjects possessed draconic blood. However, for the first time, he made an effort to actively create such descendants. He focused on two of his subject people, the Naga and the Centaurs. The Naga considered him a god and were eager to mix their blood with his. Additionally, their reptilian nature mixed well with his own. The products of these unions were known as Draga and were far more powerful than their mortal brethren. The Centaurs were chosen for their already large size and strength. These traits were enhanced in the mixed blood descendants known as Dracotaurs.
Sunchaser also encouraged his descendants to interbreed to enhance the draconic traits they possessed. Then, he did all he could to stall the Possessed for as long as he could to give his children the time to mature.
The war continued for decades, each side gaining more and more powerful soldiers, the Possessed on one side and Dragon Children on the other. Eventually, the point came when normal soldiers were almost redundant with massively powerful combatants fighting over the battlefield before the victors descended to destroy the mortals on the losing side.
The war was essentially a stalemate, but slowly, the Possessed gained the upper hand, conquering territory after territory in the Almatian Confederacy. Finally, Sunchaser realized that he had to take an active hand in the war. The venerable dragon left his mountain home and descended on the armies of the Possessed. He single-handedly destroyed 2 of the Possessed’s divisions before the three remaining members of the original Cabal caught up to him.
Their battle was of epic proportions, shattering the landscape around them. When it was all over, the great wyrm lay slain along with two of his opponents. Only Ravnivorous climbed out of the scar that remains on the land to this day. From that moment on, the Empire of the Possessed became the Ravnivorous Empire.
Rumors persist that at least one of the other Possessed survived the battle with the dragon but not the ambition of their fellow. Ravnivorous neither confirms or denies this rumor, though whether because it is true, or he doesn’t deign to justify it is a matter of speculation.
With their revered leader killed, the will to fight left the Almatians. Within a few years, the last resistance disappeared and Ravnivorous ruled all the Almatian lands.
Unfortunately, the Shan used this opportunity to attack the war weary Empire. The Shan had remained essentially unscathed during the war by taking neither side and doing nothing more than threatening the Almatians.
Thus, their armies were fresh. Unfortunately for them, there was no easy way for them to assault the newly expanded Ravnivorous Empire. As has been mentioned before, the ocean between Shan and the original lands of the Ravnivori was too vast to be easily or quickly crossed. Likewise the mountains that separated the Shan lands from what had formerly been the Almatian Confederacy were too tall and jagged to be easily crossed in the best of times and were impossible during the winter months and much of both the fall and spring. Therefore, the Shan had to form several flotillas of ships to send troops around the coast of the mountains to land in the Almatian lands. Unfortunately, it was fairly easy for the Ravnivori to sink significant portions of these fleets before the troops ever landed.
It was only a matter of time, however, before the Shan got lucky and landed enough troops on the Almatian coast to drive the Ravnivori away. The Ravnivori were the ones who got lucky, however.
The rulers of Shan were extremely prejudiced against the non-human members of their Empire. Their unfair treatment of these people had already driven one clan of the Naga and all of their Dwarven subjects into joining the Almatians. There was still one race that had suffered under the yolk of their oppression, however.
A massive group of Kobolds lived under the mountains that separated the two nations, and unbeknownst to both sides, tunnels that extended well into each Empire. The Shan used these creatures as little more than fodder and shock troops to wear down their enemies before sending in the humans to finish their foes off.
Tired of being used and abused by the humans, the Kobolds turned on them. They allied themselves with the Ravnivori and, for the first time in their history led non-Kobolds through their lands. The Ravnivori, with their newfound allies were able to strike deep in the Shan heartland. They made a lightning attack on the Shan capital and took it before the soldiers on the front lines even knew it was under siege.
Shan was a much more fractured country than Almati had been, however, with dozens of warlords and clanlords constantly fighting for power under the Emperor’s reign. So, even when the Empire had been destroyed, the Ravnivori were not in control of all the lands. They had eliminated the threat of invasion from the nation, however, and with their greater resources and man power, it was only a matter of time before they picked off and destroyed the warring nations one by one.
And then, centuries after it had begun, the dream of the Possessed was fulfilled. They ruled every foot of ground and every soul on their planet.
Of course, they were not satisfied with this for long. Within a century, they had begun to war amongst themselves. The Ravnivori Empire would have ended there, like so many other empires before it, tearing itself apart until nothing remained but tattered remnants and memories.
However, a Shan technomancer developed the first Void Engine, a arcanomechanical device capable of carrying ships into the realms beyond Retra. Ravnivorous saw the chance to expand his empire not just to the edges of his own world, but to the very depths of space. He struck a bargain with the Arcane and soon the Ravnivori were branching out to explore the other planets in their crystal sphere.
The first planet they found was inhabited by thousands of tribes of humans, dwarves, elves and goblinkin of all kinds. Every tribe fought every other tribe with the occasional truly charismatic leader temporarily forging a few of the tribes into a nation long enough to conquer their neighbors before the reins of power slipped from his or her hand.
The world was perfect for the Ravnivori. Though their ships were few and it took months for them to establish a foothold, they began the slow, inexorable process of conquering the world.
However, the Ravnivori are nothing if not ambitious. Even before their first success on this planet, they began exploring the others in their sphere. They dropped spies upon each one, returning every year for reports.
At one, Ravnivorous saw another opportunity. A nation named Kakkebeku was under siege by its neighbors. It was only a matter of time before it fell to the superior numbers of its enemies. The Possessed offered them a chance. Kakkebeku would become a tributary nation to the Ravnivori Empire in return for Imperial protection. Faced with little other choice, they agreed. Ravnivorous dropped a full legion on the planet, tilting the balance of power back to the Kakkebeku. Soon, they had driven their foes back and the Ravnivori had even taken land from their enemies.